Jeffrey LewisUS Strikes Mosque in Fallujah

The Associated Press is reporting that we struck a mosque in Fallujah with three missiles, killing 40 people. The Washington Post reports that a command post authorized the strike after several requests from local commanders for air strikes against the Mosque, from which five Marines were reported shot.

I think you can track the slow collapse of the “greeted as liberators” trope with our declining respect for mosques. In the beginning, during the ground war, we actually avoided firing into Mosques even if there were Iraqi troops holed up in them. Assistant Secretary Clarke made a special point of mentioning this in April 2003:

Furthermore, we are showing so much more respect for the prominent mosque in Najaf — the Ali Mosque, which is one of the most important religious sites for Shi/’a Muslims — than the Iraqi forces are. Iraqi troops are holed up in the mosque and firing at coalition forces. Against all international laws of war, the regime/’s forces are using and abusing the mosque as a military fortress. We have not fired back, and we continue to work hard to avoid civilian casualties and protect Iraq/’s holy sites.

By January 2004, were were ready to start raiding mosques that were used to store weapony for the insurgency. But DoD argued “the greatest care was taken by coalition forces to uphold the sanctity of the mosque and to use the minimal amount of force necessary to conduct the operation.” General Kimmit added that “as you might imagine, before we conducted any operation into that mosque, because of the sensitivity of the religious monuments inside this country and the places of religious expression, we are very, very careful that we don/’t go in indiscriminately or without a significant amount of intelligence.”

Two days later, General Kimmit played a video of the operation to demonstrate that we had attempted “to maintain as much dignity and respect” with the mosque and the detainees “consistent with the force protection requirements.”

I guess we are now officially in Phase III.

Q: Do you think more or less than 40 Iraqis will be radicalized by the decision to hit a mosque with missiles?

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